In 2019, living without a mobile phone seems impossible. Most of us can’t go all day without texting, checking social media, or asking Google an important question like: Which movies are coming out in Marvel Phase 4?
But when you’re in prison, life is about taking your liberty away and isolating you from the outside world. They want to make it as difficult as possible for you to communicate with anyone outside the prison walls. So, today, I’m going to answer the question: Can you use a cell phone in prison?
In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:
- Where do prisoners hide their phones?
- When can prisoners make phone calls?
- How much is a prisoner’s phone?
- What would happen if you went to jail for your cell phone?
Where do prisoners hide their phones?
It’s no surprise prisoners aren’t allowed to have cell phones, but they do find their way into prisons and detention centers across the country. Mobile phones are one of the most smuggled items into prisons, often via prison guards or other prison staff.
There are security measures in place when prison staff enter the facility, but the process is not as intrusive as you would have to go through as a visitor. So it’s much easier for prison staff to get their phones inside than it is for visitors.
It’s also very profitable as inmates spend a lot of money on cell phones and chargersㅡSometimes as much as $1,000.this is covered in the episode orange is the new black, because cell phones can be as lucrative as drugs. Since cell phones are not illegal like drugs, many people who work in prisons aren’t necessarily opposed to the idea.
However, many states and jurisdictions are beginning to pass laws regarding bringing electronics into correctional facilities, and if you are caught, you could face criminal charges. However, I will discuss this in detail in a minute.
In some prisons, a friend or family member simply throws the phone over the fence, and the prisoner simply sets a time and place to get the phone.
As for where prisoners hide their mobile phones, there are places throughout the prison where they can be placed. Something like this you really don’t want to keep in your cell or room because if it’s found, it’s easy for an officer to place the blame on you. However, if it’s found outside your cell, it’s much harder to lock it down on an inmate (and delete their call logs and browser history if they’re smart enough).
Prisoners can hide them in laundry rooms, workplaces, recreation areas, and bathrooms. It had to be a place where you could grab it and use it without anyone seeing you. Some prisoners may wear it if they know they won’t have to be strip-searched. However, this can be risky as you never know when something like this might happen.
You’ll have to get creative, but there are plenty of places to hide your phone.
When can prisoners make phone calls?
Prisoners do have access to landline payphones during the day, but hours vary by facility. Where I was imprisoned, we could use the phone anytime between 6am and 10pm, except for counting time.
However, the lines are often long and you may have to wait for hours for the chance to speak to a loved one for 15 minutes.
If prisoners are in administrative isolation (hole, SHU), they don’t have access to phones at all. Prisoners who are in maximum security and locked away for 23 hours a day may only have access to a phone once a week. In reality, when inmates can call depends on the facility they are being held in.
How much is a prisoner’s phone?
The biggest reason cell phones are so important in prisons is because inmates pay ridiculously high rates to make calls.These calls should only cost pennies, but companies like JPayㅡwho owns most of the prison communications businessㅡThe charges are much more than that. Sometimes a short call can cost as much as $10, but again this depends on the facility.
“If my wife, kids or close friends get sick, I’m wasting a month’s phone budget,” one former prisoner told Broward Palm Beach New Age.
With long queues at most prison calls, JPay is now introducing tablets that family and friends can purchase for their incarcerated loved ones at certain facilities. This enables them to send and receive e-mail, and download music, games and movies. However, it comes at a high price.
The tablets do not have internet access, but some allow inmates to make phone calls or conduct video visits. While it’s great that prisoners have access to this new item so they don’t have to sit on long phone lines, it’s very expensive. JPay found a creative way to increase revenue by allowing multiple inmates to use their products and services at the same time.
What would happen if you went to jail for your cell phone?
If you’re an inmate, getting caught with a cell phone usually means going through a hole. And, it could also mean more charges and a longer sentence for you. If you are arrested for trying to bring a cell phone into the facility, you will lose your job and may also face criminal charges.
Many states and jurisdictions have begun passing laws making it illegal to bring electronic devices into prison grounds or prisons. So just because the item itself is illegal, taking it to jail could get you in some serious trouble.
Do you think companies like JPay are taking advantage of prisoners and their families? Let us know in the comments below.